Australian surgeons shamed for culture ‘rife’ with harassment and bullying

In 2008, Dr Caroline Tan was awarded the highest level of compensation at that time for a sexual harassment claim. The award of $100,000 was made after she successfully pursued a claim against Mr Chris Xenos, a senior neurosurgeon, after she has been sexually harassed while carrying out her training in neurosurgery.

Since this time, the surgical field has been in and out of the spotlight. In March 2015, fellow surgeon, Dr Gabrielle McMullin, pointed out that winning her sexual harassment claim wasn’t exactly a victory for Dr Tan. For the first time, Caroline Tan broke her silence. She backed the mounting claims that sexism, harassment and bullying are rife amongst surgeons, and it is those who dare to speak up who are being punished, not the perpetrators. She said that she did not regret reporting Mr Xenos’ behaviour, but reinforced the genuine dilemma for female doctors, who are afraid that speaking out could ultimately ruin their career.

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